$1m for a town-size piece of paradise

Kent AcottThe West Australian

Want to buy a town?

Well, now you can — and while there is no firm price tag, you will probably need about $1 million and a preparedness for hard work.

Tone River, about 40km from Manjimup, was built as a mill town in 1952.

It closed in 1978 and became a wilderness retreat run by the Department of Sport and Recreation until 2008.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Now, the town is up for sale — complete with its 20-plus cabins, town hall, workshop, sporting ovals, undercover barbecue area and its reception office.

It’s all on 40ha of land along the Tone River.

The town, which was also known as Strachan, is being sold by the Department of Lands.

The town of Tone was very isolated in its day.
Camera IconThe town of Tone was very isolated in its day.

Department spokesman Gordon Walmsley said it represented a unique opportunity.

“We think it might be ideal for a school or educa-tion group, or maybe an entrepreneur who is prepared to spend a bit of money to create a very special holiday escape,” he said.

“We have already had quite a bit of interest.”

According to Jane McConnell’s history of Tone River, the town was particularly isolated. The 30km road to the highway was not bitumen and few people who lived in the town had cars.

“Since families could not readily get to Manjimup, they did most of their shopping at the general store, which stocked every conceivable item,” she wrote.

“The store also served as a bank and a post office.

The former mill town of Tone, near Manjimup.
Camera IconThe former mill town of Tone, near Manjimup.

“Mail was delivered three times a week. There was a petrol bowser outside the store and a public phone booth, the only telephone in town except for the company phone inside the store. About once a month a Catholic priest and an Anglican minister would come to the town for services.

“Occasionally, a doctor would visit the nearby Nyamup Mill and people from Tone could go to see him, but most preferred to have their own doctors in Manjimup.

“The children attended the primary school at Nyamup. A bus left the Tone River Mill daily at 7.30am.”

According to Ms McConnell, the houses were built from the same design used by the State Housing Commission. They all had electricity and wood stoves for cooking. Rent was never more than $10 a week.

The town is for sale.
Camera IconThe town is for sale.

The town had WA’s last steam-powered mill, which employed 117 men at its peak.

Local real estate agent Colin Wallbank said the property would be sold “as is”, with some of the structures needing repair and restoration.

He said it had a “tourism enterprise” zoning that would accommodate some form of short-stay accommodation.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails